Best of our wild blogs: 24-25 Jul 16

Mass coral bleaching at Terumbu Pempang Tengah
wild shores of singapore

Mass coral bleaching at Pulau Semakau East
wild shores of singapore

Common Scarlet (Crocothemis servilia) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Monday Morgue

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Malaysia’s largest marine park opens in Sabah

The Star 25 Jul 16;

KUDAT: Sabah has launched the Tun Mustapha Marine Park, the country’s largest marine park and it is now part of the massive Coral Triangle.

This marine park spreading almost 890,000ha from Kudat, Pitas and Kota Marudu will see the conservation and rehabilitation of ma­­rine lives, is just a step away from achieving a 10% conservation on seafront and marine lives by 2020.

The Coral Triangle is a marine area located in the western Pacific Ocean.

It includes the waters of Indo­nesia, Malaysia, the Phi­lip­pines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Coral Triangle is named for the staggering number of corals (nearly 600 different species of reef-building corals alone) that nurture six of the world’s seven marine turtle species and more than 2,000 species of reef fish.

The Coral Triangle also supports large populations of commercial tuna, fuelling a multi-billion dollar global tuna industry but is at risk due to non-sustainable fishing and other marine activities.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who made this announcement at the Kudat Festival, said that the gazetting of the Tun Mustapha Marine Park was proof of the government’s commitment to protect the environment.

He added that such a move would benefit villagers as more tourists would be interested to visit Sabah.

This, he said, would generate more tourism revenue for the go­vernment and more business opportunities for the people.

“Tourism is among the main sectors for Sabah and the country, and that is why it is important for us to ensure that our natural resources are protected for generations to come,” he said.

Musa also said that other countries were interested to learn Sabah’s conservation efforts and policies.

Tourism, Culture and Environ­ment minister Masidi Manjun, who was also present at the event, said the state’s main development agenda “is to see a balance with nature and conservation”.

“Sabah is pro-conservation, we want to make sure there’s a ba­lance between physical development and the environment,” he said.

Masidi said Sabah must ensure that it looked after its resources and ensure the people continue benefit from it via the tourism industry.

“We want the locals to give their cooperation to the state and Sabah Parks,” he added.

Six Sabah marine parks to become shark sanctuaries
The Star 25 Jul 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Six of the ma­rine parks under Sabah Parks will be gazetted as shark sanctuaries in an effort to protect the species.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Masidi Manjun made the announcement in the wake of the recent slaughter of sharks off Sabah’s Mabul island.

The incident which went viral on social media caused an uproar among netizens.

He said the move to gazette might be able to help protect the population of sharks around Sabah as the state government was not able to legally ban shark hunting and finning.

However, he said the initial approach would be more educational than imperative.

“We want to start the creation of shark sanctuaries by educating the people so that they feel that they have ownership of the programme,” Masidi said.

He explained that education was more important because in the end, the success or failure of a programme depended on how much the people felt that it belonged to them.

He added that he wanted the locals and fishermen to be with the government in making the initiative a success.

“We want them to understand that they can continue to hunt according to their traditions and way of life but to leave enough for conservation,” explained Masidi.

Tun Mustapha Park, Malaysia's largest marine park, officially launched
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 24 Jul 16;

KUDAT: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman launched Tun Mustapha Park (TMP), Malaysia's biggest marine park, here today.

The park, spanning approximately 898762.76 hectares, promises better marine protection and conservation in this part of the world.

It was declared a protected area under the Sabah Parks Enactment 1984 by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah Tun Juhar on May 19.

Speaking to the local community and tourists, Musa said the success of the gazettement was part of the state government's efforts in advancing the people's socio-economy through various sectors. "This is a historical event for us.

With the establishment of this large marine park, Malaysia's commitment in the Convention of Biological Diversity, United Nations Environment Programme to protect at least 10 per cent of the marine and coastal area can be achieved by 2020."

Present at the launch of the TMP were State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun and assistant minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming, and State Special Tasks Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang.

In 2003, the TMP was proposed by the Sabah government shortly after it was recognised as a globally-significant priority marine conservation area.

The marine park is located off the districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas right up to the Balabac Strait.

It is also is situated within the Coral Triangle which is a six million sq km marine area that directly sustains and protects more than 120 million people in coastal communities across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.

With its declaration, the size of protected marine parks in Sabah now stretches to about two million hectares along with the Tun Sakaran Marine Park and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.

Meanwhile, Masidi said the six marine parks under Sabah Parks would be part of a sanctuary in an effort to protect the shark population.

"We will start the initiative of the creation of a shark sanctuary by educating the people so they too have ownership of the programme.

"I must admit that one of the reasons why there seems to be an apparent failure in wildlife protection is perhaps we have not done enough to educate the village folks on conservation.

"I believe the people need to feel passionate enough to be part of the system; that is what we need to emphasise in the enforcement of the shark sanctuary in all marine parks in Sabah."

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Malaysia: Tackle pollution in drainage system first

The Star 25 Jul 16;

PETALING JAYA: River pollution should be tackled upstream where the drains are, said Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) River Engineering and Urban Drainage Research Centre director Prof Dr Nor Azazi Zakaria.

Dr Nor Azazi said it would be pointless cleaning rivers if drains flowing into them continued to be dirty.

“There needs to be a sustainable design to trap and collect rubbish from flowing downstream. Clean drains mean clean rivers.

“The Government has also spent so much to maintain our rivers and to collect rubbish. We need to re-look our enforcement measures to overcome this.

“If rubbish keeps being dumped into drains and rivers, it would affect a river’s stability – the riverbed, river capacity and equilibrium would all be influenced adversely.

“Secondly, it will also affect water supply downstream and the aquatic life in the river,” he said.

Dr Nor Azizi said it was high time the Government seriously considered including the environment in the school curriculum, starting from the lower levels.

He said that awareness programmes such as the “Love Our River” campaign need to be run professionally to ensure they can be measured and improved on.

The “Love Our River” campaign is carried out by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) to encourage public awareness, empathy and care for rivers and includes concerted efforts to clean up rivers nationwide.

It was launched in 1993 to educate the public on the importance of rivers and the environment while highlighting the critical state of pollution of the rivers.

The Malaysia Environmental Quality Report 2014 showed that based on the 473 rivers monitored by the Department of Environment, 186 rivers (39%) were slightly polluted and 43 rivers (9%) were polluted in 2014.

This is an increase of the 173 rivers (36.6%) slightly polluted and 25 polluted rivers (5.3%) the previous year.

An average of 2,200 tonnes pollute rivers monthly despite campaigns
MANJIT KAUR The Star 25 Jul 16;

IPOH: Every second, someone is dumping rubbish into Malaysian waterways and an average of 2,200 tonnes of rubbish is being collected every month from traps built across rivers in the country.

In just the upper part of Sungai Klang, which includes Sungai Gombak and Sungai Batu, a total of 21 tonnes of rubbish is collected monthly.

The rubbish is collected from 11 trash screens built across rivers, and from 500 gross pollutant traps built in drains to prevent rubbish from flowing into rivers.

“This means that every day, people along the upper areas of Sungai Klang are throwing 700kg of rubbish into drains and rivers,” said Malaysian Water Partnership (MyWP) vice-chairman Datuk Hanapi Mohamad Noor.

“Despite numerous programmes and campaigns by the authorities, including the ‘Love Our River’ campaign launched more than 10 years ago, not much progress has been achieved,” he said in an interview.

“The campaign was to create public awareness and sensitivity towards the need for cleaner rivers. Yet, the responsibility is always left to the authorities without much support from the people,” he said.

Hanapi, who is a former DID River Basin Management Division director, said Sungai Klang was not the most polluted river but still significant as it flows into the Kuala Lumpur city centre.

Malaysians, he said, must understand that trash thrown onto roads or other public spaces would end up in the drains and rivers after the rain.

Hanafi said adequate funding for maintenance of drains and preservation of rivers had always been a problem.

The cleaning of rivers was not a one-off programme but should be carried out throughout the year, he said, adding that this meant that there was a need for an annual budget of about RM100mil yearly to clean the rivers in Malaysia.

As for the laws, he said they were adequate in dealing with litterbugs but there was a lack of enforcement.

“Singapore is seen to be successful in maintaining a cleaner environment, including the drains and rivers due to its strict enforcement of laws,” he said.

In Malaysia, he said 97% of water used for domestic, industrial and irrigation purposes came from surface water in rivers and reservoirs.

Hanapi cautioned that water supply to users would be affected if rivers were seriously polluted, since the upper section of intake points of water treatment plants, and operation for the plants would have to be closed then.

This, he said, had happened several times in Sungai Langat in Selangor when the river at the water supply intake points was found to be polluted with ammoniacal nitrogen.

“If more people realise that the water they are drinking comes from rivers, they may think twice before polluting it. The cost for water treatment can get really high. This could even lead to higher water tariffs,” he added.

Hanapi said the amount of rubbish that ended up in rivers was actually higher because not all rivers were installed with rubbish traps or log booms.

This also excludes the garbage that is collected by local authorities from drains, he added.

Plastic and polystyrene clogging up Klang River
ROYCE TAN The Star 25 Jul 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: A horrendous stench greets those who go near the log boom at the downstream of Sungai Batu, one of the tributaries of the Klang River.

What’s worse is the sight of the log boom where heaps of rubbish are collected, made up mainly of plastic bags and bottles and polystyrene containers.

A check by The Star recently found a kayak, motorcycle helmets, footballs, tree branches, tin cans and many others.

According to a spokesman from the Drainage and Irrigation Department’s (DID) Klang River basin office, this was a common sight at the log boom.

“We have even found things like sofa sets, mattresses, refrigerators, washing machines and motorcycle frames.

“Many take the easy way out by dumping everything into rivers, even though they know very well that this will pollute our rivers.

“This log boom itself (in Batu River) traps more than a tonne of rubbish monthly. It’s worse during the rainy season because more garbage gets washed into the rivers,” he said.

A log boom is a barrier placed in a river that is designed to collect or contain floating garbage.

Last year, 205 tonnes of rubbish were collected just from the Klang River and its many tributaries – 75 tonnes from gross pollutant traps (GPT), 60 tonnes from log booms and trash rakes and 70 tonnes from manual cleaning.

From January to April this year, 85 tonnes of rubbish have already been collected.

The spokesman said river cleaning was done using various methods such as installation of river traps like gross pollutant traps, log booms and trash rake, manual cleaning and the use of manpower and machineries.

He said GPTs were provided at the downstream end of drains or engineered waterways which discharge to sensitive rivers, water quality control ponds or urban lakes to reduce sediment load, litter, oil and chemicals.

“In the Klang Valley, the River of Life (RoL) project was initiated to transform the Klang-Gombak River corridor in Kuala Lumpur into a vibrant and liveable waterfront generating economic value.

“This project is focused on cleaning up and beautifying the polluted rivers in the Klang Valley.

“This initiative is led by DID with the support of 26 agencies across four ministries, including local authorities such as Selayang Municipal Council, Ampang Jaya Municipal Council and DBKL.

“DID has exceeded its target by completing the construction of 369 gross pollutant traps, log booms and trash rakes,” said the spokesman.

He added that the Government had allocated RM3bil since 2011 for the project until 2020.

The Government had also allocated RM114mil to rehabilitate rivers under the “One State One River” programme from 2006 to 2007.

Ministry: Work together in cleaning Sg Klang
The Star 26 Jul 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is calling on the Selangor state government and local councils to work together in cleaning up Sungai Klang.

Following a front page report by The Star that 21 tonnes of rubbish is collected monthly from the Klang Valley’s biggest river, minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he wanted to keep its waters clean.

But the ministry’s will alone would not be enough, he said, noting that the Federal Govern­ment only had jurisdiction of 8km of the 120km river.

“The local councils must work with us. They cannot rely on my ministry alone because water resources and the river are under the state purview.

“This is why we are inviting Selangor to work together with us to make the river a river of life. If not, waste from domestic and industries will continue to pollute it,” he said.

Malaysian Water Partnership vice-chairman Datuk Hanapi Mohamad Noor said that as many as 700kg of rubbish was thrown into drains daily which eventually find its way into Sungai Klang.

This despite the “Love Our River” campaign that was launched more than 10 years ago.

The Malaysia Environmental Quality Report 2014 showed that based on the 473 rivers monitored by the Department of Environment, 186 rivers (39%) were slightly polluted and 43 rivers (9%) were polluted in 2014.

This is an increase of the 173 rivers (36.6%) slightly polluted and 25 polluted rivers (5.3%) the previous year.

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Malaysia: 60 wild elephants detected along Gerik-Jeli highway

BERNAMA New Straits Times 23 Jul 16;

GERIK: Users of the East-West Highway from Gerik-Jeli may at times be faced with a panic situation when they come across wild elephants roaming, and a large number of them crossing the highway.

According to the Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) director Noor Alif Wira Osman, the wild elephants were from the Royal Belum State Park and Temenggor Forest Reserve here.

Noor Alif said there are more than 60 elephants in the area, which is equivalent to about 70 per cent of the big eared animal’s population in Perak.

“Five small groups of elephants were detected roaming along an 80-kilometre stretch of the road.

Normally, wild elephants will roam in the early morning, and late at night, depending on the weather,” he told Bernama here recently.

According to Noor Alif, although a 200m wildlife crossing (viaduct) had been constructed at KM157 of the route, wild animals including elephants still roamed in the area or sneaked onto the highway.

He also reminded the public, especially motorists to not panic when coming across wild animals on the road and honk at them, but instead give them way to cross the road. --BERNAMA

Drivers warned not to honk at elephants crossing roads
The Star 24 Jul 16;

GERIK: Users of the East-West Highway between Gerik and Jeli have been warned against approaching or honking at wild elephants crossing the road.

Perak Perhilitan director Noor Alif Wira Osman said these wild animals were from the Royal Belum state park and the Temenggor forest reserve.

“There were five small herds detected moving near a 80km stretch of the highway. They will normally wander in the early morning and late evening,” he said yesterday.

Noor Alif said although a 200m viaduct had been built at KM157 of the East West Road from Gerik to Jeli, elephants continued to wander along the highway.

Noor Alif reminded the public not to panic if they should come across the elephants.

“They should also not come out of their cars and approach the animals or throw any objects at them,” he said.

The Royal Belum state park is the third largest after Taman Negara in Pahang and the Crocker Range Park in Sabah, and is known for its endangered wildlife species, such as Sumatran rhinos, elephants, tapirs and primates. — Bernama

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Indonesia: Riau’s Zamrud forest named newest national park

Haeril Halim and Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 23 Jul 16;

The government on Friday celebrated World Environment Day (WED) by officially opening Zamrud National Park in Siak regency, Riau. The park aims to conserve the remaining forest and ecosystem against industry in the region, home to nearly 3 million hectares of palm oil and timber plantations for pulp and paper companies.

The decision of the Environment and Forestry Ministry to upgrade the status of the 31,000-ha peatland forest, which has two lakes inhabited by endangered species such as gold arowanas, from a wildlife reservation to a national park aims to ensure it is not converted for industrial use in the future.

In his speech for the event themed “Go Wild for Life”, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said massive industrial expansion in the forests of Riau had damaged the ecosystem and that the government would work to harmonize industrial and environmental policy.

“If the environment is exploited on a large scale for economic purposes, that will harm the environment. There must be harmony between the two,” Kalla said, adding that the environment needed to be preserved for the future of the Earth.

His comments were in line with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s pledge to impose a moratorium on new oil palm plantation licenses in light of severe deforestation, especially in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said the new status of the Zamrud forest would protect it from unlawful activities such as illegal logging and plantation encroachment.

“The existence of the Zamrud National Park is a boon for environmental sustainability,” Siti said.

Around 5.7 million ha of Riau’s total 9 million-ha area are peatland forest prone to annual fires.

The province made headlines in 2015 after being blanketed in choking smog for several months, causing respiratory problems in hundreds of local people and trillions of rupiahs in state losses from disruptions to economic activity. The haze also polluted neighboring Singapore and Malaysia.

Friday’s event was the first time the government has held WED celebrations outside of Jakarta. Also on Friday, the Environment and Forestry Ministry gave out dozens of awards to local administrations, such as Surabaya and Surakarta cities, for their environmental achievements, a WED tradition.

“Zamrud is now the third national park in Riau after Bukit Tiga Puluh and Tesso Nilo national parks,” Siak Regent Syamsuar said, adding that the proposal to increase Zamrud’s status to national park had been submitted in 2002.

Zamrud, the regent claimed, is the only national park boasting pristine forest.

“The forest at Giam Siak Kecil has been destroyed by encroachment. If encroachers run out of room there, they will certainly move on to Zamrud. Even now, certain parties are attempting to claim land on the periphery of Zamrud. It is just a matter of time. That’s why we need to start protecting it now,” Syamsuar added.

He added that the deforestation at Tesso Nilo park in Pelalawan regency should serve as a lesson for the government.

“We strove to convince the Environment and Forestry Minister to grant national park status to Zamrud forest. If Zamrud forest is damaged, there’ll be no more forest in Siak,” the regent said.

Zamrud forest is home to 38 types of bird, of which 12 are endangered, as well as endangered mammals such as Sumatran tigers, deer and tapirs.

On Friday, the ministry freed three eagles and 56 gold arowanas in Zamrud to mark the conservation efforts.

Zamrud also contains major gas resources, which are currently being exploited by PT Bumi Siak Pusako and PT Pertamina Hulu.

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Philippines: Red tide engulfs Samar, Leyte bays

The Standard 24 Jul 16;

TACLOBAN CITY—The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has expressed alarm over the red tide phenomenon in Eastern Visayas that has already killed two children.

BFAR’s regional office said that red tide toxins found on May 27 in Irong Irong Bay in Tarangnan, Samar and Cambatutay Bay in Catbalogan City have spread to nearby Maqueda Bay, Villareal Bay and Carigara Bay.

Maqueda Bay is a major source of mussels for residents of Jiabong, Catbalogan City, Motiong, Paranas, Pinabacdao, Hinabangan, San Sebastian, and Calbiga in Samar. The area has been shipping shellfish to Manila for export.

Another rich source of shellfish is Carigara Bay in Carigara, Barugo, San Miguel, Leyte, and Capoocan towns in Leyte province.

BFAR regional director Juan Albaladejo said that a family of seven from Cagutsan village, Sierra Island in Catbalogan City were brought to the Samar Provincial Hospital and later to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center after consuming penshell locally known as “sarad.”

An 11-year-old girl from the family died due to paralytic shellfish poisoning on July 17.

On July 20, another family from San Andres village also in Catbalogan consumed mussels for dinner bought from a village market. Two of their children were hospitalized after suffering severe stomach pain.

A five-year-old boy succumbed to dehydration at the Samar Provincial Hospital the same day.

The fisheries bureau asked local government units to assist in the information drive and enforcement of shellfish ban, which strictly prohibits consumption, trading, and transport of shellfish gathered from infested bays.

“It’s unfortunate that these incidents happen despite effort to warn the public starting from the onset of red tide recurrence,” Albaladejo said.

“We reiterate our public advisory to refrain from eating, harvesting, marketing, and buying shellfishes and Acetes specially from affected bays until such time that the shellfish toxicity level has gone down below the regulatory level,” he said.

Fish, squid, shrimp and crab are safe to eat “provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking,” according to BFAR.

In the last quarter of 2015, Eastern Visayas region was hit by what the BFAR described as the biggest red tide bloom that has not been seen in the region for more than three decades.

Red tide spreads in Samar, Leyte
Restituto A. Cayubit Manila Bulletin 27 Jul 16;

Tacloban City, Leyte – Several bays in Samar and Leyte are infested with red tide, prompting the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Office 8 based here to warn the public against consuming shellfish harvested by the contaminated waters.

BFAR-8 Regional Director Juan Albaladejo told reporters two children in Catbalogan City were killed reportedly after eating shellfish gathered from the waters near the city.

Albaladejo told reporters the red tide or harmful algal bloom was first observed on the last week of May in Iromg-irong Bay of Tarangnan, Samar. It has since spread to neighboring Maqaueda Bay which covers the city of Catbalogan and the Samar towns of San Sebastian, Hinabangan, Calbiga, Paranas, Motiong, Jiabong,Pinabacdao, and Villareal Bay.

He said the red tide has also reached Carigara Bay in Leyte and Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar.

Samples of shellfish gathered from Matarinao Bay last July 22 showed a reading of 65 toxins per 100 grams of shellfish meat, way above the safe limit of below 49 toxins per 100 grams of shellfish meat.

The toxins produced by the algal bloom can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Albaladejo warned the public not to gather and eat shellfish, crab, shrimp and squid from the infected bays.

He said fish from the same areas are safe for human consumption as long as the gills and innards are removed and the fish is washed properly.

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